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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son of Nun. He was of the tribe of Ephraim, and born A.M. 2460. He devoted himself to the service of Moses, and in Scripture he is commonly called the servant of Moses, Exodus 24:13 ; Exodus 33:11 ; Deuteronomy 1:38 , &c. His first name was Hosea, or Oshea; Hoseah signifying saviour; Jehoshua, the salvation of God, or he will save. The first opportunity which Joshua had to signalize his valour was in the war made by the divine command against the Amalekites, Exodus 17:9-10 .

He defeated and routed their whole army. When Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the law of the Lord, and remained there forty days and forty nights without eating or drinking, Joshua remained with him, though, in all probability, not in the same place, nor with the same abstinence, Exodus 24:13 ; Exodus 32:17 . Joshua was "filled with the spirit of wisdom," qualifying him for the arduous and important station of governing Israel, to which he was called by the special command of God, Numbers 27:18-20 ; Deuteronomy 31:7 ; Deuteronomy 31:14 ; Deuteronomy 34:9 ; Joshua 1:5 . His piety, courage, and disinterested integrity are conspicuous throughout his whole history; and, exclusive of the inspiration which enlightened his mind and writings, he derived divine information, sometimes by immediate revelation from God, Joshua 3:7 ; Joshua 5:13-15 ; at others from the sanctuary, through the medium of Eleazar, the high priest, the son of Aaron, who, having on the breast plate, presented himself before the mercy seat on which the Shechinah, or visible symbol of the divine presence, rested, and there consulted Jehovah by the Urim and Thummim, to which an answer was returned by an audible voice.

Joshua succeeded Moses in the government of Israel about the year of the world 2553, and died at Timnathserah in the hundred and tenth year of his age, A.M. 2578. He was about the age of eighty-four when he received the divine command to pass over Jordan, and take possession of the promised land, Joshua 1:1-2 . Having accomplished that arduous enterprise, and settled the chosen tribes in the peaceable possession of their inheritance, he retired to Shechem, or, according to some Greek copies, to Shiloh; where he assembled the elders of Israel, the heads of families, the judges and other officers; and, presenting themselves before God, he recapitulated the conduct of Divine Providence toward them, from the days of Abraham to that moment; recounted the miraculous and gracious dispensations of God toward their fathers and themselves; reminded them of their present enviable lot, and concluded his solemn address with an exhortation in these emphatic words: "Now, therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord," Joshua 24.

The book of Joshua continues the sacred history from the period of the death of Moses to that of the death of Joshua and of Eleazar; a space of about thirty years. It contains an account of the conquest and division of the land of Canaan, the renewal of the covenant with the Israelites, and the death of Joshua. There are two passages in this book which show that it was written by a person contemporary with the events it records. In the first verse of the fifth chapter, the author speaks of himself as being one of those who had passed into Canaan: "And it came to pass when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted." And from the twenty-fifth verse of the following chapter, it appears that the book was written before the death of Rahab: "And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho." Though there is not a perfect agreement among the learned concerning the author of this book, yet by far the most general opinion is, that it was written by Joshua himself; and, indeed, in the last chapter it is said that "Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God;" which expression seems to imply that he subjoined this history to that written by Moses. The last five verses, giving an account of the death of Joshua, were added by one of his successors; probably by Eleazar, Phinehas, or Samuel.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Joshua'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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